Summer 2020 Journal Challenge

Looking for something to do this summer?

Join our Summer Journal Challenge!

Once a week during the summer holidays we want to inspire you to keep your own journal, by posting ideas here and on social media.

We’ll be taking inspiration from historical figures such as the famous David Livingstone and Jacob Wainwright (Jacob helped David travel through Africa in the 1800s), who kept detailed journals of their lives to share with the world. Through writing and drawing they documented the people they met, the animals and plants they saw, what they did and things they thought would be interesting for people to read about.

How Do I Get Involved?

All ages welcome. Get writing, drawing, photographing - who knows who might read your journal entries in 200 years! You don’t have to stick to the prompts, you can write about whatever takes your fancy. Submit your journal entries in the form below or share on social media using #BirthplaceProject. You can also e-mail them to Our friends at South Lanarkshire Libraries are also going to put together a digital collection of the journal entries we receive.

Win A Prize!

By submitting your journal entry, you will be entered into a competition (UK only) to win one of the books (we have three copies of each to give away) below:

  • ‘Out of Darkness, Shining Light’ by Petina Gappah (for adults)
  • ‘Africa, Amazing Africa, Country by Country’ by Atinuke (for children)

To submit your journal entry please fill out the form below.

Week 1 - Animals

This activity is suitable for all ages

This week we’re asking you to look at the nature around you, in particular the animals that you see.

David Livingstone travelled very far away from his family and friends in Britain, so he kept a journal of everything he saw and did so that he could tell them all about his experiences when he got home. He was very interested in all the new animals he saw when he was travelling in southern Africa and described them in great detail so that the people he cared about at home would feel like they had travelled with him.

Have you seen any animals today (perhaps birds or insects or maybe your pet dog)? Write a journal entry and describe them as if the person reading has never seen one before or draw a picture and label it like a scientific diagram.

What is your favourite animal and why do you like them (think about animals you can find in Scotland, but also those that live in places David Livingstone travelled to, like Zambia, Malawi or Botswana!)?

Now draw a picture and label it with your favourite facts about this animal.

Don’t forgot to submit your creations in the form below to be in with a chance of winning a book and be part of an online collection!

Share on social media using #BirthplaceProject and make sure to tag us.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, here is what Tunya wrote after going for a walk around one of his favourite parks in Glasgow.

Week 2 - Travel

This week’s inspiration is travel! These last few months we’ve all been stuck at home or in our neighbourhoods. We want you to write/draw/create taking inspiration from travel and holidays you’ve been on in the past, or places you’d love to go to – use your imagination and travel as close or as far as you’d like!

Tunya has helped us out this week too. He drew this map of the South American continent, writing that he’d love to go to Venezuela one day.

Did you know that David Livingstone, on his first expedition to southern Africa, had to stop off in South America? He set sail from Britain in December 1840 and because of a huge storm on the Atlantic, he and the crew had to stop off to replenish supplies for their journey in Rio de Janeiro.

This boat journey is where he learned how to use an important navigational tool – the quadrant.

We can’t wait to show you the new exhibition, where we’ll tell you more about these stories.

Don’t forget to submit your entries in the form below to be entered in the book competition and the digital collection.

Happy journaling


Week 3 - Skills

This week’s Summer Journal Challenge theme is… skills!

It can be anything from gardening, drawing, sewing, a language, counting or ironing. We want to hear about what skills you’ve learned these last few months.

In David Livingstone Birthplace collection we have lots of beautiful objects which skilful craftspeople created. And when David was travelling through southern Africa with his family he relied on some of Mary’s skills (Mary was his wife), which included speaking many African languages.

What’s the skill you’re most proud of?

Don’t forget to submit your entries in the form below to be entered in the book competition and the digital collection.

Happy journaling

Week 4 - Thank You

Thank you to everyone who’s submitted an entry so far! We’ve loved seeing what you’ve all been up to. This week, Tunya has written a wee thank you note to all the people who have helped him in the last months.

Who would you like to say thanks to? Your mum? Grampa? Your local shopkeeper?

Submit you journal entry below to be in with a chance to win one of our books! You could win either "Africa, Amazing Africa" by Atinuke or "Out of Darkness, Shining Light" by Petina Gappah.

Out of Darkness, Shining Light
Out of Darkness, Shining Light
Africa, Amazing Africa
Africa, Amazing Africa

Don’t forget to submit your entries in the form below to enter.

Happy journaling

Summer 2020 Journal Challenge - Week 4 Thanks
Thank Your (PDF)

Week 5 - Back to School


Have you entered the competition? Write a short journal entry, draw a picture of how you’re feeling or share a photograph.

This week’s theme is Back to School. We know many of you will be trying to get back to some kind of normal, and hope that this week’s theme provides a chance for reflection. The inspiration for the Summer Journal Challenge was Dr Livingstone’s own journals, as well as the journals of his contemporaries, like Jacob Wainwright (Wainwright was one of Livingstone’s attendants during his last expedition) and we can’t wait to show you the journals in the new museum.

We hope you enjoyed following the Challenge, and we look forward to receiving more submissions this week! Remember you can pick any of the previous themes (adults and children are welcome to submit entries) and you could win either Petina Gappah’s Out of Darkness, Shining Light or Atinuke’s Africa, Amazing Africa. You could also be included in a digital collection in partnership with South Lanarkshire libraries.

Last day for entries is 31 August 2020, with winners announced on Friday 4 September 2020.

Best of luck to everyone in their return back to school!’

Submit Your Journal Entry

This competition is now closed.

We are very grateful to our key funders the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic Environment Scotland and the Scottish Government for their support in helping us deliver the Birthplace Project.

National Lottery Heritage Fund
Scottish Government
Historic Environment Scotland
Note: Please note that David Livingstone Birthplace (and the David Livingstone Trust) is no longer part of National Trust Scotland (NTS). NTS members will therefore no longer receive discounted/free entry to the Birthplace Museum.

Support Us

As a registered charity, we rely on your donations to help maintain the museum's unique collections and educational programmes. Your generosity will make a difference. Thank you.

Support Us

Get Involved

Sign-Up For Our Newsletter

Sign-up for our newsletter